Interview with Priyanka Blah, Global Brand Strategist for Hapusa Gin and Founder of spirits and cocktail website The Dram Attic
Read our interview with Priyanka Blah, Global Brand Strategist for Hapusa Gin and Founder of spirits and cocktail website The Dram Attic.
What’s your career background?
I’ve been in the alcohol-beverage circle for over a decade, working across multiple areas including global sales for a British craft spirits brand for several years looking after markets across Asia, MEA and Eastern Europe.
Going back to the beginning of my career, it started with writing, which I have always enjoyed (specifically media writing), which is what I did in college. When I started working for the first time, I also started writing about spirits and documenting my own journey with spirits, cocktails and bars.
This was ultimately how The Dram Attic started – it wasn’t really planned, it happened organically. This was before the days of Instagram so I would journal about what I had experienced and enjoyed, and brands started taking notice and contacting me, inviting me to events and reviewing spirits.
No one in India (I am based in Bangalore, India) was doing anything similar relating to cocktail culture around the world and people were curious to read about it. This in turn led to people contacting me via the website asking for recommendations for bars to visit in different cities around the world.
About seven years ago, is when I realised that The Dram Attic was more than just a hobby and passion – it opened up my career in the spirits world.
Alongside The Dram Attic and being South Asia Chair for The World’s 50 Best Bars, I am also the Global Brand Strategist for Hapusa Gin. I first heard about the brand back in 2017. I loved the story of Hapusa and the liquid.
For me, Hapusa lived up to every claim it made – I thought it was divine. I was very loyal to the brand before meeting the founders and master distiller so when they asked me to join them to oversee brand strategy, it was an easy decision to make!
What’s your USP?
From a personal perspective, raising awareness for the talent and expertise of South Asia’s bar community through my work with The World’s 50 Best Bars and Asia’s 50 Best Bars (Priyanka is a South Asia Chair on the judges panel).
From a brand perspective, Hapusa sets itself apart from other gins as it very much encapsulates a journey across India. All eight botanical ingredients are sourced from across diverse terrains of the country (including Himalayan juniper berries – one of the only gin brands in the world to use them – as well as cardamom, turmeric, and raw mango), creating an unusual and exceptional savoury gin.
Who’s your target audience?
Hapusa drinkers are those who appreciate and enjoy high quality spirits (especially the complex and diverse flavours of India in their favourite drinks) in bars and at home!
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I rely heavily on the power of networks and word of mouth – whether that comes to building a personal brand or a product – it’s always worked for me. I feel the more people you have talking about the brand, the more your name comes up in conversations you’re not a part of, the more likely you are to be on top of their minds.
There are ways to do this but the one I find most effective is by making sure you engage in conversations in the right spaces where people are actually listening to what you have to say. Social media is a great way to do this…while there is a lot of noise and clutter, if you’re selective and observant, there is a real opportunity to be a part of conversations that will help elevate your personal brand and your product – provided you’re contributing in the right way!
What’s the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
In general, starting something like The Dram Attic in a region like South Asia at the time I did, was challenging. The audience barely existed and reaching new audiences was hard (this was all pre instagram and whatsapp).
Building readership and in the first three years was almost frustrating because most people were still referring to guide books and popular listing websites – I literally had to carve out this space for myself and build an audience from scratch at a time when nobody understood why I was doing what I was doing!
And your proudest moment so far?
Most recently being listed at #18 in the 2022 Bar World List of 100 Most Influential people by Drinks International
Why is work so important to you?
I come from the school of thinking that everyone needs something to ground them and keep them humble. For me, my craft does that – I’m sometimes very critical of my work and that keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground. If you’re lucky, your work can also bring purpose.
I have always loved what I do and if what I do positively impacts the community I work with, that’s my purpose and what will keep me going every morning. Also, I like that it helps pay my rent!
Who inspires you?
My parents, the Dalai Lama, and Nirmal Purja!
What are your top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
Do it for the right reasons – identify what you love about the industry (and what you dislike about it). It will give you perspective and help you decide if it’s meant for you. Most importantly, train yourself to strike a balance. This industry is one of excess and if you want to make a career in it, you’ll need to crack the code of self preservation and work-life balance.
Find out more about The Dram Attic.